Many of you have heard the leadership guru, John Maxwell, speak on the topic of leadership. He has said that leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. While I agree with that wholeheartedly, I need something a little more substantial. I think I need a word picture with a few examples. I believe we all would agree that leadership is influence. We are aware that our influence can either encourage others to do better, or it can discourage them and lead them in the wrong direction.
Over the years, I have sought to give concrete examples and illustrations to the concepts that I teach. I do this because I have discovered that is the way I learn best myself. If a concept is vague to me, I will not be able to teach it very well. However, if the concept is crystal clear to me, then I can communicate it more clearly and effectively to others. Let me give you a simple example.
When eating in Italian restaurants, I would see the word “Antipasti” as a menu heading. For years I wondered, “What did pasta do that was so wrong? Why are we against it?” Finally, my curiosity got the better of me, so I asked someone from Italy why they were against pasta. They laughed and said, “In Italian, the word ‘anti’ doesn’t mean against, it means before. So antipasti is what you eat before the rest of your meal.” Well, suddenly, everything made sense. See what I mean? Now I have a clear word picture. Correct influence by another person straightened out my thinking.
Having used that simple example as an illustration of influence, let me get to the heart of real leadership. I believe genuine leadership is learning not to whine, moan, groan, or complain. It is about doing what is right and leading in the right direction with words and actions. Now, let me break down both sides of that coin for you so that you do not miss my point. Let us see what we should not do as well as what we should do!
It is critical that you avoid the negative habit of whining. Do not let words come out of your mouth that are discouraging to both yourself and others. Some people will tell you about every ache and pain they have from the time they get up until the time they go to bed. Do not be one of them! And quit moaning and groaning every time something goes wrong. The world does not revolve around you…or me. If we complain every time we do not get a green light or every time things do not go our way, our life will be one complaining session after another. In a short, two-word exhortation, “Stop it!”
Instead, lead in the right direction with your words and actions. It is the words that come out of your mouth and the behaviors from your life that show what leadership is all about. Many times each day, a thought will go through my mind that is negative and non-productive, but I have trained myself to simply not feed it. I do not have to water it; I do not have to fertilize it; and I do not have to let it grow. What I do say is something that is positive both to myself and to others. I use words and actions and attitudes to let people know that I am looking for the good, the pure, and the positive in everything that takes place. That takes discipline, effort, and daily practice!
I want to be quick to add that I am human, like the rest of you, and do not do this perfectly one hundred percent of the time. But I have learned the importance of letting my words and behaviors be those that are helpful and positive. I realize that it only takes a little negativity to discourage other people and cause my own day to take a downward turn, as well. It really is quite simple…watch what I say and watch what I do. That is what real leadership is all about. I could go on and on, but I believe I have clearly stated my point. It is all about your words and your works! Simple concept!
This week watch your words and your behaviors. If they are upbeat, positive, good, encouraging, and heading in the right direction, then you are a leader. But, if you are continuing to whine, moan, groan and complain every time something goes wrong, then you can kiss leadership goodbye as it flies right out of the window. That is not what leaders do. Leaders learn to be careful about what they say and do and point those efforts in the right direction. Right words and actions help their personal life, their business, their family, their friends, their children, their grand-children, and everyone that surrounds them to have a better life. That is the kind of person I want to be, and I know that’s the kind of person you want to be, too.
Your words and your works – watch them this week!
Tip: I finally figured out what leadership is all about!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm